Lagos calling: Tony Allen opens up Nigeria's music scene

Tony Allen

If you want a city that’s a modern musical powerhouse, you don’t need to think of London or Los Angeles or New York. Think instead of Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria. The West African nation is arguably the fulcrum of African pop, and increasingly a world leader in culture.

So the time feels right to explore some of the many facets of Nigerian music and how it spread and mutated around the world, in a weeklong series in association with music platform Boiler Room: Gateways – Tony Allen and Nigeria.

Allen is the focus of our week, as one of the key figures in Nigerian music’s transition into an international affair. He made his name working with Fela Kuti, where his phenomenal drumming was the key ingredient in the Afrobeat style that emerged in the 1970s. His association with Kuti began in 1964, and they worked together on more than 30 albums before parting ways in 1979. Since then he has worked with scores of other groundbreaking artists – notably Damon Albarn – as well as continuing on his own prolific solo career. All of which means he’s the perfect artist to be the focus of Gateways.

Read more: Lagos calling: Tony Allen opens up Nigeria’s music scene | Music | The Guardian